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A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music

A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music In this thoroughly researched and well-written text, George E. Lewis tells the story of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the African American artists’ collective founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1965 whose “composite output” (ix) has encompassed experimental music, improvisation, concert music, multimedia performance, jazz, computer music, visual art, and other expressive forms. Lewis shows how AACM members have championed “working-class self-help and self-determination” (x), resisted exploitative and culturally essentialist practices in both the popular music industry and the high-culture establishment, and collectively embodied a “mobile, boundary-crossing experimentalism” that “works across genres with fluidity, grace, discernment, and trenchancy” (511). The breadth of Lewis’s book is one of its best features. Placing the history of the association “in dialogue with the history of music and the history of ideas” is a central theme of A Power Stronger Than Itself (xxviii–xxix), and the reader learns about the AACM in the contexts of African American social history, the postwar avant-garde, the Black Arts Movement, the European free-jazz Emanzipation, the 1970s “downtown” New York scene, and the institutional landscape of the late-twentieth-century art world. Lewis’s text is also distinguished by the nearly one hundred interviews he http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Music Theory Duke University Press

A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music

Journal of Music Theory , Volume 51 (2) – Jan 1, 2007

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2007 by Yale University
ISSN
0022-2909
eISSN
1941-7497
DOI
10.1215/00222909-2009-005
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In this thoroughly researched and well-written text, George E. Lewis tells the story of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the African American artists’ collective founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1965 whose “composite output” (ix) has encompassed experimental music, improvisation, concert music, multimedia performance, jazz, computer music, visual art, and other expressive forms. Lewis shows how AACM members have championed “working-class self-help and self-determination” (x), resisted exploitative and culturally essentialist practices in both the popular music industry and the high-culture establishment, and collectively embodied a “mobile, boundary-crossing experimentalism” that “works across genres with fluidity, grace, discernment, and trenchancy” (511). The breadth of Lewis’s book is one of its best features. Placing the history of the association “in dialogue with the history of music and the history of ideas” is a central theme of A Power Stronger Than Itself (xxviii–xxix), and the reader learns about the AACM in the contexts of African American social history, the postwar avant-garde, the Black Arts Movement, the European free-jazz Emanzipation, the 1970s “downtown” New York scene, and the institutional landscape of the late-twentieth-century art world. Lewis’s text is also distinguished by the nearly one hundred interviews he

Journal

Journal of Music TheoryDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2007

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